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Students, cows adjust to DLC transformation

November 29, 2007

The Dairy Learning Center is up and running, but it’s not without a few problems that have been addressed. Adjustments have been made or will be made to the facility, and student workers, professors and the cows have needed some adjustment time, becoming familiar with the new ways of working.

“It’s taken a little bit of adjustment for students, and mainly the cows,” Sylvia Kehoe said.

Kehoe teaches the lactation course and will be holding some labs at the DLC.

Improvements made at DLC

For the first week or so, the DLC was shipping Grade B milk, versus Grade A milk, Larry Baumann said.

Baumann has been part of the DLC committee throughout the process.

“Some of the equipment standards for [Grade] A weren’t met the first time [the milk inspector] was out there,” he said.

The joints on the wash pipes were not welded, which caused the discretion in which grade milk the DLC could ship.

The joints have been welded, and the DLC now is shipping Grade A milk.

Grade A milk can be used for essentially any dairy product, including fluid milk, while Grade B milk can only be used in making cheese, Baumann said.

Another adjustment to the facility includes getting bigger panels in the calf barn. The panels there as of now are too small for some of the calves to get their heads through.

Though there is no real rush to get this task completed, the new, bigger panels should replace the small ones soon, Baumann said.

“The calves are fine and everything’s working,” he said.

Changes take getting used to

Since Oct. 12, when the DLC had its grand opening, students and the animals adjustment to the new facility is going well. Students and cows have both been undergoing training.

The 25 students who work at the DLC have had to learn how to use the new equipment.

It has been time-consuming to train the workers, Baumann said.

Though doing much better now, the cows needed a little encouragement for the first couple of weeks when it came to entering the parlor. In the parlor at Lab Farm 1, the cows had their own individual stall when in the parlor. In the double-6 Herringbone parlor, the cows need to be side by side in order to be milked.

“They weren’t comfortable doing that,” Baumann said.

The younger cows caught on fairly quickly; it is the older cows that still are taking a little time to adjust.

Heide Zahn milks cows at the DLC and will also be having lactation lab at the facility.

“The first night was absolutely horrid,” she said.

It took about six hours. Now it takes about two to three hours total, Zahn said.

“It’s been a pretty steep learning curve for all of us,” Kehoe said.

Zahn was working at the DLC during its first week of operation.

“The first week was rough, which was expected,” Zahn said.

Though, the equipment at the DLC is much faster and more efficient, Zahn said.

Overall, the DLC is running smoothly, despite the changes that have needed to be made.

“It’s going great,” Baumann said. “The facility is wonderful to work in.”

There are many things that can be done with the new facility that could not be accomplished in the old facility at Lab Farm 1. Cows can be separated, the fresh cows are in a separate barn, the cows can be put into headlock for temperature checks and other observation, he said.

The technology is a lot better at the DLC than in the old facility, Zahn said.

“It’s a decent place, it’s just going to take a lot of getting used to,” she said.

Students have been understanding and adaptable, Baumann said, and the cows have adjusted quickly.

“Overall,” he said, “it’s going well.”